In the 1980s I wanted to get a degree in comp sci, but I was too intimidated by my all-male classmates who already knew how to code. So I settled for math.
I got a job as part of the “model office” a company needed to try out their software. I found out that testing the software took brains and that standing up to dismissive programmers engaged my stubborn streak. I was making 1/3 of what the programmers were.
At my next job I got a huge raise. Unbeknownst to me, I was still only making 1/2 of what the programmers were. But I pushed for better procedures. I led teams of testers. I agitated for better education.
At my next job I was the first and only tester. I established their testing practices. I taught others. I made 3/4 of what the programmers were. A former co-worker agitated for me to be hired. At my next job a different former co-worker agitated for me to be hired!
Am I making what the programmers do now? I’m not actually sure. But I am now confident that I add value everywhere I work. I don’t let anybody insinuate that I’m “just a tester” or “not part of the boys’ club” — If I don’t speak out and speak up, I can’t add value!